You probably caught the news of the Andrei Kirilenko signing from a contrived all-white team joke on Twitter, or some other traditional medium. Following the 3-way trade between our Timberwolves, the Hornets, and the Suns that shipped out Wes Johnson to clear cap space, the Wolves were quickly tied to Kirilenko. Although he was 31, he was a 3 time all-star in Utah, and once an elite perimeter defender, so it was an intriguing move. Kirilenko, as we know, spent last season with CSKA Moscow playing with new Timberwolf, Alexey Shved.
Then the contract figure came out- $18 million for 2-years. OK, Kirilenko is probably still an effective player, but $9 million per year?! Alas, the final figure came out today: 2 years and $20 million total (2nd year as a player option). Because, why pay him $9 million when you can pay him $10? I want to know how this was negotiated; I imagine it went like this:
“My client wants $9 million per year, and a 2-year deal.”
“How about $15 million over two years instead?”
“OK, you drive a hard bargain. Make it $10 million per year for two years!”
“Absolutely no—wait, what? Alright, Mr. Kahn, you’ve got yourself a deal!”
After all this is the same player who missed 10-24 games each season between 2004 and 2011. Now, that same player is 31 years of age. Call me crazy, but this is starting to look like a bad contract. Not saying he’s a bad player, but $10 million for a player you will likely end up paying sit in the trainer’s room is a lot.
I had my questions, so I turned to one of my go-to Jazz guys, David J. Smith of UtahJazz360.com. I’ll try to transcribe the Twitter conversation my best here. Be sure to follow David, too (@davidjsmith1232)
Me: How should I feel about the AK47 rumors?
David: Now, he is most effective as a PF. Uses his quickness to cause matchup issues. Makes great help defense blocks from PF spot.
As a SF, his outside shot is decent (improved greatly), but he is taken out of the interior, making his D more pedestrian.
Me: Ah okay. Is he still at his peak or so?
David: On a slight decline, but he seems rejuvenated from his year back in Europe.
Me: Ah, the home country magical remedy, I see. A 4? That’s interesting. Wolves just got [Dante] Cunningham to back [Kevin] Love, and they still have Derrick [Williams]. Interesting fit.
David: Which is exactly my confusion. Where does he fit in Minny? Wasn’t that a reason Al was traded (playing same spot as Love)?
Me: Yep, I don’t get it either. Btw, I’m probably gonna use these tweets in a post. Good info! Thanks!
David: Anytime, my friend!
An interesting perspective and I’m still convinced that the money is still probably too high, but the fit can be worked out. Even if he can be at least an average defender still, shoot at least 45%, and average around those 3.3 assists per game he’s averaged for his career, the Wolves got better no matter what.
What does this mean from a positional standpoint? Means that Derrick Williams will have to work for every one of his minutes or learn cheers for his teammates that are on the court. Obviously, Love is the power forward and Kirilenko would play there if Love was on the bench or if Adelman wanted to play small with Love at the 5 and Kirilenko at the 4. This could possibly make Chase Budinger the starting shooting guard as well, if Kirilenko starts.
Actually, thinking about this team with better passers and shooters makes me extremely happy. This will be fun to watch. Picture this: a Rubio-Shved-Budinger-Kirilenko-Love lineup making the defense’s heads spin with their passing, and getting good shots. What was I saying about the money again?